Film4 FrightFest Review Monday (Day 5)

Monday morning came and it was an attentive morning as it started off with Jake West’s documentary Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and Videotape. A 60 minute look back at the video nasty era and how it all kicked off in the first place. The subject has been covered before but West has managed to assemble some great footage of those that deemed this list of 72 horror films to be of a threat to the nation. He has also managed to assemble many names that were either for or against the argument from back in the day (and believe us there were very few fighting against the ban at the time). This is interlaced with modern film makers talking about the relevance of these films today and also the effect they have had on them before they became film makers themselves.

Martin Barker - Sticking it to the man in Video Nasties,

It’s a very interesting topic, and made all the more relevant considering a film was pulled from the FrightFest bill this year due to it coming under the scissors. More on that in the Blog!

Next came The Dead, yet another zombie flick which while it looks good and appears on screen to have good production value, at times becomes increasingly repetitive. It is another take on the zombie film which works well thematically, but in literally every scene there is a zombie attack, or a zombie on screen leaving very little time for characters to talk and get to know one and other. This keeps us at arm’s length as an audience and whilst we can get swept up by the look of it all we are ultimately just being dealt another zombie scare card.

Also fighting for their rights!

The other thing that may harm the film is that it is coming around at a time when zombie films are really starting to get tiresome.  For the past half a decade plus we have been given a wide variety of zombie films – most of which have done something new to the sub-genre – and whilst The Dead can proudly sit amongst this pile, the appetite for such films may really start to be on the slide.

Letting the crowd sit through Bedevilled whilst I did the media rounds, next on my list was Red White & Blue. Noah Taylor is a phenomenal actor and here he could be in for a prize or two as a sociopath who takes under his wing a very lost young woman who has spent most of her life on the brink, serving up her body to whomever wants to use it for their sexual pleasure; after which she leaves and goes back about her daily routine. With Taylor’s character serving up his own twisted past, things take a turn for the worst when a former conquest of hers discovers a dark secret about her past and takes her hostage. To say any more would spoil the film, but this was perhaps the most unstable narrative in terms of where we are following and the visual style presented to us in this Texas based chiller, and by that I mean it is highly unpredictable, but never stops being gripping in its second half.

Director and cast of the Last Exorcism

The festival came to its close with the UK premiere of The Last Exorcism, currently ripping up the US chart. What we get is a film that is firstly a very funny docu-drama on a man who has lost his faith and now performs fake exorcisms as he believes that all possessions are in the mind of those who claim it (the timing in the editing really tickles those ribs). The second half of the film takes a more serious turn when it turns out that a job they just faked has actually turned out to be the real deal. What we get then is a highly effective string of events that both creep you out and sustain suspense of just where this is all heading. This is where the audience is really going to have their say as the end comes at you in a direction you probably won’t be able to predict, but it’s a matter of will this ending stand up with audiences today, or years down the line, or will this rather bizarre end/Blair Witch symbioses actually make us all shake our heads in despair.

Eli Roth

Right now it looks like the vote is going to be towards the negative as it is such a random way to go, but who knows.

FrightFest has been a journey and a half of laughs and leaps, jumps and judders. Controversy had a look in, some great talent turned up for the event, some very special films were shown along with a few other oddities – but all seemed to have their own fans which is the great thing about the festival, the broad range of taste among the cinemagoers. If you are a FrightFest virgin, but love horror films, then it is well worth checking out next year. The price is worth it if you can put the waking hours into attending.

Here is how we rate them!

Hatchett II  **

Primal   **

*The Texas Chainsaw Massacre    **

Isle of Dogs  ***

*F   **

13 Hrs   *

I Spit On your Grave   ***

Monsters   ****

*Dream home   **

Wound  **

*We Are What We Are  **

Damned by Dawn*

*A Serbian Film ***

Buried   ****

*The Loved Ones **

Video Nasties    ****

The Dead **

Red White and Blue ***

The Last Exorcism **

*Viewed out of the festival

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